In an ideal world, poker final tables would be won by the most skillful player at the table. The game would be cat and mouse, a small pot here, a big bluff there, until one person had all the chips.
We do not live in an ideal world, as Sergio Braga and Alejandro Chokakis can attest.
Chokakis, a local Chilean player, squeezed out A♣Q♣ on a recent hand as the first player to act. He put in a standard opening raise. Action passed to Sergio Braga in late position, who had picked up two of the other three aces. He put in a modest re-raise.
Here’s where you probably say to yourself, “Oh, that’s too bad. Tough to get ace-queen into aces.” The thing is, the hand wasn’t ace-queen into aces. It was ace-queen into aces and kings, the red kings that were held by Fernando Gordo on the button. He four-bet all in, Chokakis called, Braga called and all hell broke loose.
Yep, just a three-way all in six spots from $184,000 with aces, kings and ace-queen suited. No big deal, as the kids say.
The flop had to have given Braga an ulcer. It came 4♦6♣8♣ to give Chokakis a very live flush draw. The turn K♠ probably had him looking for a bridge to jump off. The river blanked out, making Chokakis and Braga the unlucky players and Gordo the lucky one.
This isn’t to take anything away from Gordo, of course. Some hands just play themselves. This was certainly one of them. His lucky turn card boosted him into the chip lead with about 4.5 million in chips. It also knocked Chokakis out in 7th place and crippled Braga to about 250,000.
Braga put his forehead down on the rail after the hand was over. Who can blame him for such feelings of despair? He had been poised to be the one with almost 5 million in chips. Instead he went out one hand later by open-shoving J♠7♠. Gordo and Nacho Barbero both called out of the blinds and checked down a board of A♠3♦9♦10♦9♠. Gordo’s K♠10♥ took the pot to finish the job of eliminating Braga in 6th place.
So it goes in tournament poker. One moment you’re dreaming of $184,000, the next you’re standing in line at the payouts table in 6th place. If someone could devise a way to avoid coolers, he’d have customers at every poker tournament in existence.
Dave Behr is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.
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